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accordance with the Pathfinder's very nature, that he was not a little embarrassed by this simple question. To own the truth openly, he felt, by a sort of instinct for which it would have puzzled him to account, would not be proper; and to hide it agreed with neither his sense of right nor his habits. In such a strait he involuntarily took refuge in a middle course, not revealing that which he fancied ought not to be told, nor yet absolutely concealing it.
"You must know, Mabel," he said, "that the Sergeant and I are old friends, and have stood side by side-or if not actually side by side, I a little in advance, as became a scout, and your father, with his own men, as better suited a soldier of the King-on many a hard fi't and bloody day. It's the way of us skirmishers to think little of the fight when the rifle has done cracking; and at night, around our fires, or on our marches, we talk of the things we love just as you young women convarse about your fancies and opinions when you get together to laugh over your idees. Now it was natural that the Sergeant, having such a daughter as you, should love her better than anything else, and that he should talk of her oftener than of anything else, while I, having neither daughter, nor sister, nor mother, nor kith nor kin, nor anything but the Delawares to love, I naturally chimed in, as it were, and got to love you, Mabel, before I ever saw you-yes I did-just by talking about you so much."
"And now you have seen me," returned the smiling girl, whose unmoved and natural manner proved how little she was thinking of anything more than parental or fraternal regard, "you are beginning to see the folly of forming friendships for people before you know anything about them, except by hearsay."
"It wasn't friendship-it isn't friendship, Mabel, that I feel for you. I am the friend of the Delawares, and have been so from boyhood; but my feelings for them, or for the best of them, are not the same as those I got from the Sergeant for you; and, especially now that I begin to know you better. I'm sometimes afear'd it isn't wholesome for one who is much occupied in a very manly calling, like that of a guide or a scout, or a soldier even, to form friendships for women-young women in particular-as they seem to me to lessen the love of enterprise, and to turn the feelings away from their gifts and natural occupations."
"You surely do not mean, Pathfinder, that a friendship for a girl like me would make you less bold, and more unwilling to meet the French than you were before?"
"Not so, not so. With you in danger, for instance, I fear I might become fool-hardy; but before we became so intimate, as I may say, I loved to think of my scoutings, and of my marches,
and out-lyings, and fights, and other adventures: but now my mind cares less about them; I think more of the barracks and of evenings passed in discourse, of feelings in which there are no wranglings and bloodshed, and of young women, and of their laughs, and their cheerful soft voices, their pleasant looks, and their winning ways. I sometimes tell the Sergeant, that he and his daughter will be the spoiling of one of the best and most experienced scouts on the lines."
"Not they, Pathfinder; they will try to make that which is already so excellent perfect. You do not know us, if you think that either wishes to see you in the least changed. Remain, as at present, the same honest, upright, conscientious, fearless, intelligent, trust-worthy guide that you are, and neither my dear father, nor myself, can ever think of you differently from what we now do."
It was too dark for Mabel to note the workings of the countenance of her listener; but her own sweet face was turned towards him, as she spoke with an energy equal to her frankness, in a way to show how little embarrassed were her thoughts, and how sincere were her words. Her countenance was a little flushed, it is true; but it was with earnestness and truth of feeling, though no nerve thrilled, no limb trembled, no pulsation quickened. In short, her manner and appearance were those of a sincereminded and frank girl, making such a declaration of good-will and regard for one of the other sex, as she felt that his services and good qualities merited, without any of the emotion that invariably accompanies the consciousness of an inclination which might lead to softer disclosures.
The Pathfinder was too unpractised, however, to enter into distinctions of this kind, and his humble nature was encouraged by the directness and strength of the words he had just heard. Unwilling, if not unable to say any more, he walked away, and stood leaning on his rifle, and looking up at the stars, for quite ten minutes, in profound silence.
In the mean while, the interview on the bastion, to which we have already alluded, took place between Lundie and the Sergeant. "Have the men's knapsacks been examined?" demanded Major Duncan, after he had cast his eye at a written report, handed to him by the Sergeant, but which it was too dark to read. "All, your honour; and all are right."
66 The ammunition-arms?"
"All in order, Major Duncan, and fit for any service."
“Without an exception, Sir. Better men could not be found in the regiment."
"You have need of the best of our men, Sergeant. This experiment has now been tried three times; always under one of the ensigns, who have flattered me with success, but have as often failed. After so much preparation and expense, I do not like to abandon the project entirely; but this will be the last effort; and the result will mainly depend on you and on the Pathfinder."
You may count on us both, Major Duncan. The duty you have given us is not above our habits and experience, and I think it will be well done. I know that the Pathfinder will not be wanting."
"On that, indeed, it will be safe to rely. He is a most extraordinary man, Dunham-one who long puzzled me; but who, now that I understand him, commands as much of my respect as any general in his Majesty's service."
"I was in hopes, sir, that you would come to look at the proposed marriage with Mabel as a thing I ought to wish and forward." "As for that, Sergeant, time will show," returned Lundie, smiling; though here, too, the obscurity concealed the nicer shades of expression;66 one woman is sometimes more difficult
to manage than a whole regiment of men. By the way, you know that your would-be son-in-law, the Quarter-Master, will be of the party; and I trust you will at least give him an equal chance in the trial, for your daughter's smiles."
"If respect for his rank, sir, did not cause me to do this, your honour's wish would be suflicient."
"I thank you, Sergeant. We have served much together, and ought to value each other in our several stations. Understand me, however; I ask no more for Davy Muir than a clear field and no favour. In love, as in war, each man must gain his own victories. Are you certain that the rations have been properly calculated?"
"I'll answer for it, Major Duncan; but if they were not, we cannot suffer with two such hunters as Pathfinder and the Serpent in company."
"That will never do, Dunham," interrupted Lundie, sharply; "and it comes of your American birth and American training. No thorough soldier ever relies on any thing but his commissary for supplies; and I beg no part of my regiment may be the first to set an example to the contrary."
"You have only to command, Major Duncan, to be obeyed; and yet, if I might presume, sir-"
Speak freely, Sergeant; you are talking with a friend."
"I was merely about to say, that I find even the Scotch soldiers like venison and birds quite as well as pork, when they are difficult to be had."
"That may be very true; but likes and dislikes have nothing to do with system. An army can rely on nothing but its commissaries. The irregularity of the provincials has played the devil with the King's service too often to be winked at any longer."
"General Braddock, your honour, might have been advised by Colonel Washington."
66 "Out upon your Washington! You're all provincials together, man, and uphold each other as if you were of a sworn confederacy."
"I believe his Majesty has no more loyal subjects than the Americans, your honour."
"In that, Dunham, I'm thinking you're right; and I have been a little too warm, perhaps. I do not consider you a provincial, however, Sergeant; for, though born in America, a better soldier never shouldered a musket.”
"And Colonel Washington, your honour?"
"Well-and Colonel Washington may be a useful subject, too. He is the American prodigy; and I suppose I may as well give him all the credit you ask. You have no doubt of the skill of this Jasper Eau-douce?"
"The boy has been tried, and found equal to all that can be required of him."
"He has a French name, and has passed much of his boyhood in the French colonies;-has he French blood in his veins, Sergeant?"
"Not a drop, your honour. Jasper's father was an old comrade of my own, and his mother came of an honest and loyal family, in this very province."
“How came he then so much among the French, and whence his name? He speaks the language of the Canadas, too, I find. That is easily explained, Major Duncan. The boy was left under the care of one of our mariners in the old war, and he took to the water like a duck. Your honour knows that we have no ports on Ontario that can be named as such, and he naturally passed most of his time on the other side of the lake, where the French have had a few vessels these fifty years. He learned to speak their language, as a matter of course, and got his name from the Indians and Canadians, who are fond of calling men by their qualities, as it might be."
"A French master is but a poor instructor for a British sailor, notwithstanding."
"I beg your pardon, sir; Jasper Eau-douce was brought up under a real English seaman; one that had sailed under the King's pennant, and may be called a thorough-bred: that is to
say, a subject born in the colonies; but none the worse at his trade, I hope, Major Duncan, for that."
"Perhaps not, Sergeant, perhaps not; nor any better. This Jasper behaved well, too, when I gave him the command of the Scud; no lad could have conducted himself more loyally, or better."
"Or more bravely, Major Duncan. I am sorry to see, sir, that you have doubts as to the fidelity of Jasper."
"It is the duty of the soldier who is entrusted with the care of a distant and important post, like this, Dunham, never to relax in his vigilance. We have two of the most artful enemies that the world has ever produced, in their several ways, to contend with, -the Indians and the French; and nothing should be overlooked that can lead to injury."
"I hope your honour considers me fit to be entrusted with any particular reason that may exist for doubting Jasper, since you have seen fit to entrust me with this command."
"It is not that I doubt you, Dunham, that I hesitate to reveal all I may happen to know; but from a strong reluctance to circulate an evil report concerning one of whom I have hitherto thought well. You must think well of the Pathfinder, or you would not wish to give him your daughter?"
"For the Pathfinder's honesty, I will answer with my life, sir," returned the Sergeant firmly, and not without a dignity of manner that struck his superior. "Such man doesn't know
how to be false."
"I believe you are right, Dunham; and yet this last information has unsettled all my old opinions. I have received an anonymous communication, Sergeant, advising me to be on my guard against Jasper Western, or Jasper Eau-douce, as he is called; who, it alleges, has been bought by the enemy, and giving me reason to expect that further and more precise information will soon be sent."
Letters without signatures to them, sir, are scarcely to be regarded in war."
"Or in peace, Dunham. No one can entertain a lower opinion of the writer of an anonymous letter, in ordinary matters, than myself; the very act denotes cowardice, meanness, and baseness; and it usually is a token of falsehood, as well as of other vices. But, in matters of war, it is not exactly the same thing. Besides, several suspicious circumstances have been pointed out to me." "Such as is fit for an orderly to hear, your honour?"
"Certainly, one in whom I confide as much as in yourself, Dunham. It is said, for instance, that your daughter and her party were permitted to escape the Iroquois, when they came in,